Drinking black vinegar for its health benefits is becoming increasingly popular in Japan, with double-digit growth in sales reported for the last two years.

The brownish-red coloured vinegar, which is drunk in small quantities, is estimated to account for almost 20% of the vinegar market in Japan, reported Kyodo News.

Ten years ago, when black vinegar first appeared in Japanese stores, consumers were unsure of its exact health benefits, but now scientists have said the acetic acid contained in the product may help to combat high blood pressure.

“It was only recently that black vinegar’s healthful effects were scientifically demonstrated,” Koji Ishigaki, a marketing official for vinegar company Mizkan, was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.
“Studies conducted in the last couple of years have proved that the acetic acid in vinegar is effective in remedying lassitude and life style-related diseases, such as high blood pressure,” he added.

Once Mizkan, Japan’s largest vinegar producer with a 60-70% market share, entered the black vinegar market sales really began to take off.

The increase in new black vinegar products on the market has prompted the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry to set new standards regarding quality and labelling.